Bok tweaks to beat All Blacks

We’re a few sleeps away from the biggest Test of the year, and the AOR pundits each name the Bok side they think can clinch back-to-back wins against the All Blacks for the first time since 2009.

Team Tank Lanning: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17, Tendai Mtawarira 18 Wilco Louw, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Cheslin Kolbe

“We didn’t target any logs … we just wanted to grow as a team,” said Bok coach Rassie Erasmus after last Saturday’s win against the Wallabies. This in reference to not targeting the Rugby Champs trophy in his first attempt.

Fair enough. The Boks have indeed grown, but will finish as runners-up regardless of the result on Saturday. In the same interview, though, Erasmus also admitted to asking his side to get better each week, and now having beaten the All Blacks away from home, losing at home can only be seen as regression.

A smidgen unfair, in my book, but that is how the cookie crumbles.

And while the Men in Black will be smarting after the loss in Wellington, they bounced back in certain terms against a Bajada-bashed Pumas side last week in Buenos Aires, then got back in a plane to again travel more than half way round the world to be in Pretoria, and have already had the 2018 trophy engraved.

Even the mighty All Blacks could be forgiven for having their eyes elsewhere.

The bottom line is that Erasmus must be targeting a win, and not wasting a golden opportunity such as this to further experiment or build squad depth – as much as that is to be applauded.

As such, the Boks need another 23 that will implement the game plan seen in Wellington, that of not contesting defensive breakdowns, of kicking astutely, and of gargantuan defence! Double hits, speed off the line that remains structured and connected, and dominant hits that lead to turnovers.

Missing from the team that did duty in Wellington are Whiteley, De Allende and Am (all injured). In come Notshe, Esterhuizen and Nkosi, with Kriel switching from wing to outside centre.

Team Zelím Nel: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Siya Kolisi (c), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Eben Etzebeth, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Dan du Preez, 21 Cheslin Kolbe, 22 Damian Willemse, 23 Sergeal Petersen

Not since the 2015 Rugby World Cup semi-final has the jackpot been bigger for South Africa than a win against the All Blacks on Saturday.

Beating New Zealand twice in a row would officially signal the end of the worst period in Bok history. Any and all available weapons should be laid on the table for careful consideration.

The win in Wellington was underwritten by a return to the defensive traditions of Bok rugby, but those tackles must be converted into turnovers, and then points, with more efficiency. And between now and the 2019 RWC, nagging positional weaknesses must also be solved.

With everything to gain and much less to lose, Erasmus should swing for the fences this week.

Francois Louw is more suited to fetching than roaming at No 8, so Siya Kolisi – a better athlete, though less inclined to poke his head in the hole – packs down at the back of the scrum.

Sbu Nkosi returns to bookend the line with Cheslin Kolbe dropping to the bench as dedicated scrumhalf cover where his underrated eye for kick-space and elite evasion skills in tight spaces can be maximised, while his lack of physicality is minimised by the close proximity of the pack.

Jesse Kriel and fit-again Damian de Allende are reunited in the midfield with Damian Willemse covering 10 and 12.

There are two new faces on the bench – Sharks No 8 Dan du Preez and WP finisher Sergeal Petersen.

Du Preez adds firepower while Petersen, in searing hot form, offers the Boks a home run threat that the All Blacks won’t know much about.

RG Snyman teams up with Eben Etzebeth in the most physical second row in the world, and Beast Mtawarira’s set-piece experience is harnessed in the first half before Steven Kitshoff rumbles on in the final 30 for demolition derby.

You’ve read what they think, which of the teams is closest to the one you would pick to beat the All Blacks?

- Big Debate

Let's chat

  • Brad Nel

    I vote Team Zelim Nel for sure, its got a hard core with pace and flair

    • Dr Hoffman

      I would vote for u and zelim to never ever be bok selectors.

      • SweetAz

        Jissie Dr, I was just thinking how amazingly smart (or clever or brilliant) what you just said was. How the heck did you come up with that and can you tell us more about it?

  • Barry Smith

    As ever torn between what you would like to see and what Erasmus will likely do!

    At the risk of repeating myself from yesterday, 35% of tackles were made by a mere 3 players against Auss! It is worth further mention because we want to encourage and grow our defensive game. They were Pieter Steph Du Toit, Andre Esterhuizen and Franco Mostert. For this reason I believe all three will start.
    More stats – Boks stoll a mere 6 from 97 rucks against Auss. There needs to be Loose trio changes!! Kolisi’s again recorded most metres , 74m I think, suggesting that a linking role through 8 may well work. We need experienced so PSDT & Louw. I would like to see Dan Du Preeze on the bench, but I doubt it will happen!
    Kolbe mis-tackle stats 55%, perhaps we will see Nel.
    Lastly Vincent Koch was brought out specifically for the last two rounds, so probable bench inclussion?

    • Stanley

      Personally, I would have loved Esterhuizen to play again just so that he gets afforded a proper and fair chance/opportunity. As for stats (%’s): remember that if play A has the opportunity to make 4 tackles and he misses two than he has a ‘success’ rate of 50%, whereas if player B has the opportunity to make one tackle and succeeds he will have a success rate of 100%. Seems fair? Be careful of percentages at times unless you look at it together with the numbers.
      To me, Aphiwe is the (backline) player of the series, but he has a tendency to put too much trust on his speed hence giving his opposite number the outside. The Aussie wing actually scored against him on Sat because of that

    • Mike Stoop

      Why does does Dan du Preez keep getting an e added to his name. Is that a special designation? If his father is Robert du Preez, that should make him Dan du Preez without the e.

  • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

    Thanks Barry. Depends how one approaches the breakdown … If the intent is not to steal, and instead keep the likes of PSDT and Kolisi free to tackle, then it requires a selection that suits that intent …

    I hear Kolbe is staying, but the replacement would not have been Nel. Instead Nkosi, I believe.

    Not sure what Malherbe or Louw have done to miss out, but yes, the Koch inclusion is a bit of a wart. Rassie has no doubt promised him time this week, and that may well see Wilco missing out. I would have Wilco starting and Koch on the bench, and it would not be a bad thing at all to see what the latter has to offer. He had the tendency to go missing in some scrums but perhaps that has changed since his move to Sarries

    • Stanley

      Somehow i get the feeling that Rassie don’t rates Wilco Louw very highly

    • Herman Schroder?

      Tank. You’re not sure why Louw misses out ?. Have you seen his non existent defence and minimal ball snatching successes in the past few tests that he has played in ?

      Also you seem to support no contestation at the rucks to bolster the defensive effort. Very suspect playing the AB’s who with free rein on the ball will punish you with their superior skills and vision. In my opinion Rassie must approach this test with all out attack the AB’s will not be expecting it. Cheers.

      • SweetAz

        Gee Herman, I was just thinking how amazingly smart (or clever or brilliant) what you just said was. How the heck did you come up with that and can you tell us more about it?

        • Herman Schroder?

          No need to, you obviously know nothing about rugby. Cheers.

    • Barry Smith

      Thanks, yes agree Wilco would be my preferred start. Have the written off Thom Du Toit? Seems to be out in the cold? Just seemed odd bringing a retread in from Europe when we already have one?

  • Chris Mouton

    I would take Tank’s selection with the exception of switching Notshe with Dan du Preez. No offense, but Notshe will not have the same effect that Dan would have. Dan’s offloading skills also improved immensely. Zelim’s selection isn’t bad, but I just don’t like De Allende. He just doesn’t have that dominance in the 12 channel in my opinion and Esterhuizen’s defense against Australia was immense! Just wish our outside centre was someone other than Kriel. Kriel is fast and strong, but he’s just not skilled or smart enough. Maybe Mapoe?

    • Herman Schroder?

      Rassie doesn’t believe in offloads so Dan hasn’t got a chance. It’s the one aspect of the Sharks game recently that I admire the most ie their offloads. The Lions actually let me down this year where they seemed to shelve that aspect of their game. Cheers.

      • SweetAz

        Gee Herman, I was just thinking how amazingly smart (or clever or brilliant) what you just said was. How the heck did you come up with that and can you tell us more about it?

        • Herman Schroder?

          Is your record stuck or are you losing your memory ? Cheers.

  • Martin

    My team:
    Willemse, nkosi, nel, andre, diyanti, pollard, papier, whiteley/kolisi, psdt, kolisi/van staden, franco, eben, wilco, marx, beast
    Bongi, kitshoff, koch, rg, notse/van staden, faf, willie, kriel

    Time to give papier and willemse a chance, i think it will be suicide to let them start on the endd of year tour because of the conditions, that will not suit them, they need to start at least once before the world cup.
    Think nel should get a chancr because his defense is really good and we need it against the all blacks

    But the team i think rassie will chose:

    Willie, kolbe, kriel, de allende, diyanti, pollard, faf, whiteley/louw, psdt, kolisi, franco, eben, malherbe, marx, beast
    Bongi, kitshoff, koch, rg, notshe/louw, papier, elton, nkosi

    • John Comyn

      Martin you have got Rassie’s team almost spot on except Malherbe is in and Kolisi is at 6 and Louw at 8. This according to Netwerk24 who always get it spot on before the announcement.

    • Herman Schroder?

      Martin, Throwing Willemse and Papier in with no experience or game time at test level against the best in the world is tantamount to suicide. Less suicidal on the EOYT. Cheers.

  • Jon Byrne Jon Byrne

    Good team selection Tank.
    -Flo in for Notshe, just feel Notshe will be better utlized from the bench with his speed and flair could make a solid impact from 60 mins onwards.
    -Wilco in for Malherbe, Frans still not up there in terms of his scrumaging and the way the AB’s scrums are going its going to be a tough day at the office if youre not switched on.

    How Rassie utilizes his bench is going to be vital.

  • John Comyn

    Interesting small tweeks on both sides with Zelim being a little more adventurous. Interesting with both going for Nkosi ahead of Cheslin. Much as I like the little guy we need a bigger wing to mark Loane. Cheslin may bring him down 1 or 2 times of of 5. Also like Zelim’s loosies. Flo is a due a good one.

  • Dean

    I like Zelim’s starting team, the bench is simply suicide without a back up scrumhalf though. Kolbe has never played in that position at any high level of rugby. I’d have Cronje (the best tactical kicker of the reserves), Willemse and Ruhan Nel. Ruhan Nel is explosive and he could take the AB’s by surprise.

  • Lance

    Zelim Nel is as close to dammit, except I opt for Kolbe instead of Nkosi

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